Magic and space are what VR should do best. Being able to fire lightning from your hands or fly around in zero gravity are some of the best parts of virtual reality and with The Wizards: Enhanced Edition for the PlayStation VR, you get to experience magic in a way that just feels right and comfortable.
With the release of a physical disc here in the U.S., we wanted to spend some time with the game and see if it was worth summoning up your spell energy for. Turns out, it is!
- Gesture-based magic is the best magic
- Beautiful surroundings and creature models
- Excellent player progression
- Let down by the Move Controllers
- Only six hours of story
- Several game bugs
What you'll love about The Wizards: Enhanced Edition
The Wizards: Enhanced Edition does a lot of things really well. If you think of the game as some teleporting between epic set pieces, you'll have the right idea. That isn't a dig either, I really like the way the game is balanced and the best part of it is fighting waves of monsters while conjuring spells. The Wizards: Enhanced Edition use of gestures to create magic is enormously fun, even if I do suck at it. One of my favorite spells lets you shoot off magic missiles, and to conjure them you have to hold the triggers with your arms facing forward, then lift your right hand, lower your left, and spin them clockwise.
If it sounds complicated, it's because it is, but it is so satisfying when you pull it off, and it's a really helpful spell. Unfortunately for me, when you are in a panic surrounded by orcs, pulling off these complicated motions is very difficult; I normally end up throwing fireballs instead. All of the spells have their own gesture and learning them is the key to completing this game.
The first set of levels really help you learn the spells as well, and the game gives you the tools pretty early on to be an accomplished wizard. In a game that has an average runtime of around six hours, this is important. Nobody wants to still feel like a new player when facing the end boss. By the time you get through the first four levels, you are fully equipped with all the spells you'll need, all that's left is leveling them up. Even the leveling adds some welcome uniqueness to each spell. The Fireball can be dull to use, but when you add a damage-over-time component to it, you make it much more useful.
Visually, the game is gorgeous, even on the underpowered PSVR. Because the main way of moving around is the classic VR teleport, the levels aren't constrained by connectivity issues. There are a lot of floating platforms and huge towers as the backdrop to the game with the occasional dragon or airship flying past to give you the feeling that the world is alive and things are happening that you can't see. It looks much larger than the game actually is, which gives me hope for a sequel.
To give the game some much-needed longevity, The Wizards: Enhanced Edition comes with an Arena mode. The arena has three huge crystals all around the map that you have to defend. It's not easy, the monsters spawn all over the map and protecting all three crystals is really hard.
Although the Arena has a worldwide leaderboard, it is still only a single-player event. This is a shame and I would love to see the arena open up to more Wizards in the future. Working with friends to defeat the monsters would be amazing.
What you'll dislike about The Wizards: Enhanced Edition
There isn't a lot that I didn't enjoy about the game and the main issue I had wasn't exactly with the game but with the controls. I have been a supporter of the PSVR for a long time now, and I stand by my support. As a way of getting people in VR cheaply and easily, it has been an excellent flag to rally people to. With the arrival of the Oculus Quest, however, the kinks in the PSVR armor are starting to show, especially in the control system.
The ice bow in The Wizards is one of my favorite aspects in the game but it is severely hampered by the Move Controllers and how they interact with the PlayStation Camera. When you pull the string back on your magic bow and the controllers move behind each other, the camera loses track and the bow twitches like mad, making it extremely difficult to aim. This is a real shame as the same game played on a system that doesn't require a camera works brilliantly.
Another minor issue did come up more than once when I was playing which is worth a mention as well. There seems to be a bug in the game that sometimes stops the pointers working at the end of the level. Because the pointers are the only way to finish the level — there is no D-pad on the Move controller — you have to quit the game and restart the level, hoping it doesn't happen again. It's extremely frustrating. Having a timer that kicks you back to the main menu would solve the issue, as would just fixing the bug.
The other issue I have with the game is the length. I just wanted more of the game, and although there is the Arena and the game has some fun modifiers in the wizard cards, there just isn't enough content to satisfy my thirst for magic. Of course, the game is only $30 and as such is great value for your money, even if there are only six hours of the main storyline. After all, I pay a lot more than $5 an hour to go to the movies, and I do that quite happily.
Should you buy The Wizards: Enhanced Edition? Yes
I really enjoyed my time with The Wizards. Despite the limitations that the PSVR imposes on the game it is a pretty unique experience, using those gestures to generate your magic, and the visually stunning set pieces make the game feel much bigger than it really is.
4 out of 5
If you pick up the physical copy you also get a few digital goodies to sweeten the deal, one of them a digital 3D model of one of the bosses for you to 3D print at home which is awesome.
Is this game worth buying for just $30? Absolutely. Even if you only ever play it once — you won't — you will still have 6-8 hours of being as close to a real wizard as you can imagine.
Excellent in theory
Wizards is an enjoyable escape into a magical world that is the promise of VR. Those Move Controllers though, eurgh.